In her latest book, "Yogalosophy for Inner Strength", Mandy Ingber, yoga teacher to Jennifer Aniston, looks at how the practice of yoga, along with meditation, self-care, nutrition, and even music, can help everyone maintain optimum wellness and find resilience even during the most stressful and trying times.
Here Mandy shares three ways to try meditation to calm and still the mind and uplift the heart for a healthier and happier you not only through challenging periods but through all stages of life.
Simple, mindful breathing
A great description I've heard about meditation goes something like this: "Inhale. Exhale. Continue." You may have heard a lot about mindfulness recently, for it has become a catchphrase these days. What is mindfulness? Simply put, mindfulness asks you to come to the present moment. To practice simple, mindful breathing, first find a comfortable seated position. Set your timer for 20 minutes. As you sit in silence, begin to focus on the breath moving in and out of your nose. Become aware of the pause and the space in between the breaths. After the inhalation there is a pause, and then after the exhalation there is a pause. Notice the sounds in the room, the whiz of a passing car, birds chirping. Whatever is there, notice. Notice the sensation of your skin. Is there a light breeze? Bring your mind back to your breath. Notice the thoughts as they arise. Observe the present moment. Your being-ness.
Heart pulse with mudra
An old friend, who used to like to do this meditation beside me, taught this to me, and now I share it with you. The idea is to connect with your own heartbeat, with your own pulse. It's a beautiful feeling, and all it requires is that you pay attention to your heart. Lie down and place one hand, palm down and fingers spread, at the center of your chest. Place the other palm gently on top of it, connecting the thumbs to touch. It should almost look like an angel or bird with wings over your heart. This is a heart-opening mudra. Close your eyes and simply observe your pulse as you breathe normally. Remain here, observing and sensing your pulse for ten minutes, and notice how calm you are after that time.
Candle-gazing strengthens your focus, and absorbing yourself in an object that mesmerizes you, like the candle flame, can help train you to bring the mind to stillness. It will also help to open the third eye. Place a lit candle on a table three feet in front of you, at eye level. Sit in an upright, comfortable position, either seated in a chair with the soles of your feet on the floor, or on the floor in a cross-legged position. Take some deep breaths and begin to focus your gaze on the candle flame. Keep your eyes focused upon the flame, and try not to blink for as long as you can. As your thoughts arise, simply notice them, but bring your attention back to the candle flame. Begin with five minutes; later you can increase the time up to 30 minutes. When you become more advanced, you may close your eyes and hold the image of the flame in your mind's eye. This is a wonderful practice for absorbing your mind. Take notice of what this does for your connection to your intuition.